Verizon announced that beginning in November, users' information such as browsing habits and cellphone use will be tracked and gathered in order to help them send out ads that are more personalized and targeted to a specific audience.
The carrier company will be using the vast ad network of AOL as part of the collaborative work following their team up earlier this year. Currently, 40 percent of online sites are based on the AOL network.
"The Verizon family of companies offers a wide and growing variety of free services, including The Huffington Post, MapQuest, and our new mobile video service, go90," wrote Verizon on its official site. "Like many others online, these services are made possible by advertising. The best advertising is for something you might actually want, and that is what we want to give you."
However, the tracking method that will be used is believed to be unencrypted which makes users' information vulnerable to "prying" from outside sources. At times, it can also allow the government to spy on private individuals.
The NSA, for example, has been known to have used the "preferences" cookie of Google in order to track Internet users. They were able to do so by following them on networks such as 3G and WiFi using the unique cookie ID on users' devices.
In other cases, tracking can allow companies to hit users with a host of ads that are customized according to the users' interests and browsing activities.
"These programs use online and device identifiers known as "Unique Identifier Header." We will use these identifiers to help make our advertising programs better by, for example: linking advertising program information between Verizon and AOLs; connecting web and app browsing activity; and helping to distinguish the user's various devices," explains Verizon on its site.
Users who do not wish to be part of the programs can simply opt out, according to Verizon. However, the use of a "supercookie" has been enabled as a standard feature on Verizon phones which remains unknown to a large percentage of users.
Verizon also advised users who are thinking of opting out that clearing cookies on their devices or clearing their browser history will not guarantee them that they have effectively opted out of the company's nor AOL's advertising programs.